Stephen Haff is a guy who should be getting help. Instead, he says he’s getting a lot of trouble from Con Ed at the small non-profit he runs in Bushwick, Brooklyn. It’s called Still Waters in a Storm.
“We’re already living right on the edge. It’s a scramble to make rent every month,” he told me when I visited his one room center.
Still Waters provides local kids with tutoring in reading and writing. It even offers lessons in Latin and teaches kids the violin. But Stephen is worried his operation could go dark.
“We have been classified by Con Ed as a large business based on peak demand…We pay typically double what we used to pay for a monthly bill.”
That’s because the utility says Still Waters used too much electricity during a heat wave last summer, so it went over the limit for lower rates. Power costs went from about $200 a month to more than $400. And after being late on a bill, it got socked with a deposit of $ 450. For a small place like this, that is a huge problem.
“We rely entirely on donations and private foundation grants,” Stephen says.
He’d like Con Ed to restore his old rates. But for that to happen the utility says he must be below a certain usage threshold for 12 months. And Stephen doesn’t have any idea how much he’d have to cut power use to make certain he qualifies.
So he asked me for help.
We contacted Con Ed. The utility spokesperson was sympathetic. But she pointed a finger at the New York State Public Service Commission. She told us even if Con Ed wanted to cut still waters a break, it was prevented from doing so by PSC regulations. So now we try the Public Service Commission.
It’s no public service if Still Waters in a Storm has to shut its doors.